The Seattle Times’ Food & Wine section has an excellent article today on the impending arrival of Trader Vic’s in Bellevue, directly across Lake Washington from Seattle. Seattle once boasted Trader Vic’s second location, which started out named The Outrigger. The location was a Seattle institution, located at the base of the Benjamin Franklin Hotel, which later became the Westin Hotel, from 1948 until its closure in 1992. The article does a great job of describing the important place that Trader Vic’s had on the Seattle culinary scene, and also gives a great view of what the hospitality was like. In particular, great tribute is paid to the restaurant’s long-time manager, Harry Wong:
“Harry Wong would do anything for his customers,” says Tom Robinson, whose wife, Barb, got him hooked on Trader Vic’s in 1959. Harry was known for his hospitality and his sense of humor. He always recognized us and saved our favorite table.” Once, when the Robinson’s were dining with Barb’s dad — “a real meat and potatoes guy” — Harry sent out a basket of warm dinner rolls, not something you’d normally find at Trader Vic’s. “Later, I asked him where he came up with the rolls,” says Robinson. “He’d sent someone up to the Golden Lion in the Olympic Hotel to get them.”
It’s five long, rainy downtown blocks from the old Trader Vic’s location to the Olympic Hotel — that’s some very dedicated and creative service. Harry Wong must have been a truly spectacular fellow.
The article talks to several local Trader Vic’s devotees (including Greg Jones and Theresa Dowell, pictured above), all folks who loved the Seattle Trader Vic’s and have lamented the loss. There is a lot of excitement about this new Bellevue location. Recapturing the magic of the old Seattle location would take a small miracle, but if nothing else the Trader Vic’s lovers in tiki-blighted Seattle should finally be able to get a fantastic Mai Tai.
The Bellevue location opens on March 6 in Lincoln Square.
- Aloha, Trader Vic’s! The venerable purveyor of tiki culture returns [Seattle Times]
- Trader Vic’s, Seattle [Critiki]
- Trader Vic’s, Bellevue [Critiki]
- Trader Vic’s Update — Lightning Round! [Critiki News]